Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, must explain why he will allow the assessment of mining proposals to occur in the Tarkine before acting on advice before him to permanently heritage list the region, Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Christine Milne said today.
"Minister Burke today claimed on ABC local radio to have no information leading to the emergency heritage listing of the Tarkine, but failed to mention a report buried in his department recommending the Tarkine be listed.
"The Environment Minister is playing into the hands of mining companies, who are no doubt jubilant of the 2013 deadline given to the Australian Heritage Council to determine whether permanent heritage listing should be put in place.
"By 2013, all ten of the mining proposals will be submitted to the department and any subsequent heritage listing will have no effect on their operations. The wilderness, geological and cultural values of the Tarkine will not be assessed.
"It is like putting on a seatbelt after your car has crashed.
"Minister Burke's job has moved from a focus on natural and heritage values to one of being solely concerned with bleeding monetary value from the places he is supposed to protect.
"Peter Garrett placed emergency heritage listing on the Tarkine following the state government's previous attempt at building a road, and now, with a similar application before him, as well as ten mining applications that will be seriously impinged by such a listing, we have Minister Burke reneging on his promise to heritage list the region should another road proposal be made.
"This ongoing, seven year process to determine heritage listing the Tarkine has become an embarrassment to Australia whose governments persistently fail to recognise the value of this natural jewel.
"Minister Burke has everything at his disposal for immediately placing the Tarkine on the National Heritage list. Act now, Minister Burke, before these mines have your name all over them."